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Noble to Sell off Oil Field Stake in China

Texas-based Noble Energy of Israeli gas discovery fame is now looking to sell off its majority stake in an oilfield off northeastern China that launched commercial production more than a decade ago.

Citing a source close to the talks, Reuters reports that Noble has hired merger-advisory firm Lazard Ltd to sell its 57% stake on the Chengdaoxi field, which it owns in partnership with China’s state-run Sinopec.

According to the report, sources say Noble could sell its stake for between $200 million and $300 million.

The Chengdaoxi field—located on the south side of northeastern China’s Bohai Bay—is a shallow water field in approximately 25 feet of water and producing some 4,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Total proved reserves of around 7 million barrels of oil equivalent.

A five-mile pipeline connects the production platform to existing onshore processing and pipeline infrastructure located in the Shengli oil field.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Australian oil and gas producer Roc Oil Co is among those interested in acquiring Noble’s 57% stake on the Chinese field. The report noted that there has been widespread interest from both large and medium-sized energy companies.

In the company statement, Noble said that its production-sharing contract in China would expire in 2018 and that it was negotiating to sell its Chinese assets. The company’s Chinese assets have declined in output from 6,000 barrels a day in 2013 and represented 1.5% of total sales last year.

Noble is focused on horizontal-drilling operations in the US, the Mediterranean and West Africa. Its net income in 2013 shrank to $978 million from $1.03 billion in 2012. Its fourth-quarter earnings fell 47% on higher operating expenses attributed to sharply higher exploration costs.

Earlier this week, Noble said it inked a deal with estimated revenues of $500 million to supply natural gas to companies in Jordan. The gas would come from Noble's production in the Tamar field offshore of Israel. Noble is the biggest foreign investor in Israel's offshore fields.

The company is also selling part of its stake in the Leviathan natural gas project in Israel to Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd. for $1 billion.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com




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